Friday, April 03, 2009

Band-Aids fix everything, words & kisses are better

2009-01-17 075

When George was younger, he went through a aggressive phase that was usually directed at Emma or me. Poor Emma had her hair pulled (completely out of her head usually) many times and we both were hit when he didn't want us close. Most often, this happened in the middle of too much stimulation and frustration. His verbal skills were very minimal and communication between us all was difficult. The one action that appeared to be very deliberate and that (luckily) was most often directed only at me, was scratching. Using his very sharp fingernails he would find a bare arm, occasionally a cheek or neck, and very purposefully dig a long scratch into my skin. Not a fun phase, I assure you.

He hasn't done anything like that in a long time. His school has taught him excellent coping and calming skills, and just having words available has relieved much of the pressure inside his head. By no means have the tantrums gone away completely, but they are non-violent and there is virtually no un-prevoked aggression. (Emma's no angel either, make no mistake.)

Today, he became very frustrated with me for daring to tell him that he had his zip-up sweatshirt on upside down and might have trouble zipping it. I know, what was I thinking? At one point, as I was stopping his flailing hands, I saw the lead up to a scratch. Strangely enough, it was fascinating to watch the process. His finger pointed and curved, and I watched his eyes looking at me and the war going on behind them. He knew what he was about to do and knew it was wrong, but was going to try it out. And I let him (drawing away slightly to minimize the damage). With quick but careful movements he swiped at me, scratching the surface of my neck. I didn't yell, but opened my eyes wide and gasped loudly at him. Immediately he stopped, pulled away, started crying and repeating the words, "I'm sorry, Mommy" over and over as he petted my neck gently.

I wish I could get into that brain of his. I watched it work today. I watched it struggle. Which part of the decision making process broke down and regressed? How does it feel to watch your body do something your brain knows is wrong?

As he began to calm down, he pulled me to the band-aid drawer to help "fix" me. I assured him that a kiss would be enough to heal the wound. And his sweet little boy kiss most definitely did fix my pain. I wish my kiss could do the same for his.


Beth said...

This made me cry, for some odd reason. I don't know why.

Being on the outside of your child's brain, while it struggles, is the hardest thing.

And how do you stay calm? Calm enough to take in what's happening and remember it to write it up so well? I lose my temper too much. For things I know my boy is struggling with himself. And I know that my lost temper does not help . . . but actually makes things worse.


Beautiful post Meg. It brings you right to the heart of being a parent.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Meg ... I hope you realize your kisses DO make him better. He knows you love him and that truly is what matters. And you take the time to figure him out. That means so much to him ... he may not be able to tell you that, but he knows.

K said...

what sweethearts you both are

lonestar said...

You have a way with words, the way you described everything was perfect.

We went through an aggressive phase with Bearhug too (and Cuddlebug, but to a lesser extent), but the coping and calming strategies he's learned have helped tremendously.

Now we're going through it with Little Bitty and in the middle of his rages I have to keep reminding myself this is going to get better... hopefully sooner rather than later.

Trish @ Another Piece of the Puzzle said...

It's so tough, isn't it? You want to get in there and make everything okay.

This made me remember a friend with an older child talking to her son about self-control. When he would say he couldn't do it, she would tell him she saw him pause one second before doing something and that meant next time he could control himself for two seconds, etc.

It took a long time but he only has outbursts like that now if he is hurt physically (he is legally blind and so he doesn't see things coming and will react more automatically to an accident or injury of some kind).

BTW, I sent you an email, but you won the copy of Rex I was giving away!!

Tanya @ Teenautism said...

So well-written. Our kids struggle so much with regulating their emotions, among many other things. Hugs to both of you.